Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud shatters art auction record

Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud has become the world's most valuable work of art ever auctioned, realising $142.4m at Christie's New York on November 12.

The work sold after six minutes of bidding, smashing the previous world record set by Edvard Munch's The Scream, which achieved $119.9m in 2012 - an increase of 18%.

Bacon Freud triptych
The triptych is the most valuable work of art ever auctioned

Acquavella Galleries, a New York based art gallery, was the winning bidder - acting on behalf of a client.

The triptych was executed 25 years after the artists met, and stands as an unnerving tribute to the uneasy creative relationship between the two painters.

It is one of two triptychs of Freud painted by Bacon. The other example sold for £23m ($36.7m) at Sotheby's London in 2011.

It eclipsed the previous record for Bacon's work, which was $86m for Triptych 1976 - set in 2008.

The auction was the biggest in history, achieving total sales of $691.6m and setting new records for 10 artists.

Abigail Asher, a spokesperson for art advisory firm Guggenheim Asher Associates, told "It's a new world. It feels like a reinvention of the art market. I'm overwhelmed."

The triptych was initially placed at lot 32 in the catalogue. However, it was moved to lot 8A just before the auction began.

The number eight is considered lucky in China - and it is likely the move was made to encourage Chinese collectors to bid.

Moving the work up in the sale also meant that potential bidders had the opportunity to bid on the work without having spent their money on other lots.

The auction demonstrated once again Christie's current dominance of the art market, despite disappointing figures in the Impressionist and Modern Art Sales last week.

All eyes will be on Sotheby's tonight, to see if its contemporary offerings, including Warhol's Silver Car Crash, can match up. You will be able to read full coverage of the auction right here.

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